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Friday, September 26, 2014

Who I like, Tampa Bay version

On paper, this game looks like a mismatch.

After all, the Steelers are coming off the demolition of Carolina, a team that defeated Tampa Bay, 20-14, in Week 1 with backup quarterback Derek Anderson running the show.

But the Bucs also are coming off a game in which they were thoroughly embarrassed, 56-14, by Atlanta in a Thursday night game.

And we all know how the Steelers responded to having a few extra days off to stew about a Thursday night beating in Baltimore.

Tampa Bay is also switching things up at quarterback. Josh McCown, whom head coach Lovie Smith brought over with him from Chicago is out with a thumb injury. In steps Mike Glennon, a second-year quarterback who actually did OK last year with the Bucs as a rookie, throwing 19 TD passes and just nine interceptions.

The Steelers will be dealing with three new starters on defense, and more importantly, in their nickel defense.

I expect Sean Spence to capably replace rookie Ryan Shazier, who is out with a sprained knee, and Arthur Moats to possibly provide more as a pass rusher - at least right now - than Jarvis Jones, who is on injured reserve with a designation to return with a wrist injury.

But finding a replacement for Ike Taylor on passing downs could be problematic.

I expect William Gay to do a good job of subbing for Taylor, who is out indefinitely with a broken arm, in the base defense. But in the nickel, Brice McCain, Antwon Blake or B.W. Webb will be forced into action.

And that, my friends, is the unknown.

Pittsburgh is a 7 1/2-point favorite in this game, which is an interesting number. On one hand, I think the Steelers will have success moving the football and scoring. On the other, Tampa Bay, with 6-5 rookie receiver Mike Evans and 6-4 veteran Vincent Jackson on the outside, can create some matchup issues down the field.

The spread is big enough that you have to be concerned about a backdoor cover, as we saw with Cleveland in Week 1.

But I think the Steelers score plenty in this one and the Bucs have had fumbling issues - nine already this season.

Take Pittsburgh to win, 31-16


drinkyourmilkshake said...

Josh, not Cade

Dale Lolley said...

Same difference. Neither is any good

Anonymous said...

I am cautiously optimistic that the Steelers can win. Most good teams when playing poor teams are licking their chops at a chance to put a good whopping on them. The Steelers have had a recent track record of playing down to their level of competition, allowing them to stay in the game too long and eventually losing to them, think Raiders, Titan, Vikings. My guess is that it’s a motivational problem. Hoping that someone like Blount comes out fired up to play his old team and runs roughshod over them.

Dale Lolley said...

This team is a little different from previous teams in that it is more reliant on the offense as opposed to the defense.

The Steelers were built to play close games in the past. They wanted to win with their defense. This one knows that it has to score and score plenty.

drinkyourmilkshake said...

Haha, touche

Anonymous said...


You're talking about the same offense that went 8 quarters without a TD?

Dale Lolley said...

Yep that's the one.

This "struggling" offense has scored 20 or more points in 13 of its last 14 games. It has scored 27 or more in eight of its past 11 games.
Yes, it went through a little lull. But it's the only team in the NFL heading into this week with a passer with 750 yards, a rusher with more than 300 yards and a receiver with more than 250 yards.

TarheelFlyer said...

While I appreciate the "yardage stats" let's not overstate the case Dale. This offense has the same problem it had under Arians....not putting up points. All of those yards and still middle of the pack in scoring. I love the potential, and I think it is coming into its own, but the points just aren't reflecting all of that skill.

Now granted, I see it coming into its own from the scoring perspective. 4 of the last 6 games, going back to last year, they have scored over 30 points. In the first 13 games last year...once. It could be getting better. Let's hope so.

Dale Lolley said...

Le'Veon Bell being healthy and now one of the best backs in the league helps tremendously.

They averaged 27.4 points per game in second half of last season. One Denver scored more.

Anonymous said...

“They averaged 27.4 points per game in second half of last season. One (sic) Denver scored more.”

Dale, thanks for making my point. Scored all those points and didn’t even make the playoffs. They have a tendency to play down to the level of competition and since they obviously have the ability, it appears to be a motivational problem.

drinkyourmilkshake said...

Uggghhh.... They went 6-2 during the final 8 games, the 2nd half of the season wasn't why they didn't make the playoffs it was the 2-6 on the first half. Also the two losses during the 2nd half were a two point heartbreaker to Baltimore during sideline-gate and a last second loss to the Dolphins that they win if Antonio Brown's foot can squeeze inbounds by a fraction of an inch.

Anonymous said...


logic AND facts on a sports blog. How rude!

Anonymous Brian said...

Steelers - 48 Bucs - 21

I'll go overboard positive as opposed to overboard negative. Special teams & defensive TDs falling into Steeler laps, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant get some work in this one. Bryant may be a stretch to get snaps, but I think he would be great in the red zone. Much more dynamic than Justin Brown.

Patrick said...

it will be so disappointing if the Steelers drop this game or make it closer than it should be. I can't imagine it being close unless the Steelers beat themselves like they so often do against poor teams.

Hopefully they have turned a page on that. I'll go Steelers 26-13.

Anonymous said...

24-14 Steelers, in a game that isn't as close as the score would make it seem.